Free Prostate Cancer Screenings

It's time to sign up for East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System's 10th annual free prostate cancer screening for men. Last year, ETMC screened almost 1,500 men, according to Todd Sigmon, ETMC Cancer Institute Vice President. "From our annual ETMC PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood tests, 61 tests came back with abnormalities.  These men were referred to their doctors for further evaluation," Sigmon said.

The screening is a simple blood test, which identifies the level of PSA in the blood.  An elevated level is an early sign of prostate cancer.  During the past nine years, ETMC has screened more than 26,000 men during its annual June prostate cancer screening.

You are at risk and eligible for the screening if:

  • You are 50 or more years of age.
  • You are 40 or more and are African-American.
  • You are 40 or more and have a family history of prostate cancer.
  • You have not been in the care of a urologist for any prostate-related problems or diagnosis in the past year.
  • You have not had a PSA test since July 1, 2007.

Symptoms of prostate cancer may include a painful or burning sensation when urinating; difficulty starting or stopping urine flow or inability to urinate; continuous

pain in the lower back, pelvis or upper thighs; painful ejaculation; frequent urination; and blood in urine.

"When prostate cancer is in its earliest, most curable stage, there may be no symptoms to warn you," according to James Kolker, MD, radiation oncologist, and medical director of the ETMC Cancer Institute.  "Prostate cancer is highly curable when detected early."

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer kills 28,660 men each year and every man has a one-in-six chance of developing the disease in his lifetime.  Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men.  One in 35 men will die from prostate cancer. This year 186,320 new cases will be found.  African-American men are more likely to have prostate cancer and to die of it than are white or Asian men.  The good news is that the death rate is going down because the disease is being found earlier.

"The earlier prostate cancer is detected, the more options you have," Dr. Kolker added.  "In addition to surgery, radiation beam therapy, hormone therapy and various combinations of these treatments, such as radioactive seed implant are available.  This is a one-day procedure in which small radioactive seeds are placed inside the prostate gland to give a direct, high dose of radiation to the prostate tumor.  Many early prostate cancers can be treated this way.  Also some prostate cancer may be able to be treated now with the Cyberknife technology."

In June prostate screenings will be available at a number of ETMC sites including Athens, Bullard, Carthage, Cedar Creek Lake, Clarksville, Crockett, Fairfield, Gilmer, Jacksonville, Lindale, Mt. Vernon, Palestine, Pittsburg, Quitman, Rusk, Trinity, Tyler and Whitehouse. You must have an appointment to take advantage of these special screenings. Please call ETMC HealthFirst (Monday-Friday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.) to schedule your appointment at 800-850-7050.

Proceeds from ETMC's Henry M. Bell, Jr. Memorial Golf Tournament help underwrite the prostate cancer screenings.  The 8th annual charity tournament is set for Monday, September 15 at Willow Brook Country Club.